Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan Tells How He Paid a Coyote His Last $100 to Help Him Cross the Border Illegally and Began Walking Dogs in LA for Free Before He Became Known as the Beloved TV Star

Exhausted and dehydrated the young Mexican clambered through a filthy makeshift tunnel under the flooded streets of border town Tijuana led by a ‘coyote’ human trafficker.

With just $100 in his pocket and bursting with dreams of a new life in America, the 21-year-old knew this was his last hope to cross the border.

Fueled by ‘fear’ and ‘adrenaline’ he had walked for days trying to find holes in the fence – only to be apprehended by US border patrol agents each time.

But after handing over the money his father Felipe had given him from his savings to a disheveled ‘coyote’ the illegal immigrant finally made it.

That was two days before Christmas, 1990 and today almost 29 years on the young man from Mexico – beloved TV star and ‘Dog Whisperer’ Cesar Millan – shares his incredible story in full for the first time.

In an exclusive interview with DailyMailTV Cesar, now 50, details how he made the perilous journey across the Mexico/US border all those years ago and transformed his life from poverty-stricken farmer to world renowned celebrity dog trainer.

He also enters the highly contentious immigration debate and spells out his feelings on why immigrants – illegal or not – are vital for the US economy.

Speaking at his Dog Psychology Center in Santa Clarita before he began his one-man show at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Cesar describes unlawful entrants into the US as the ‘fuel’, pushing the economy forward with their ‘desire’ to provide for their family.

While not addressing President Trump directly, Cesar supports the influx of foreign workers insisting their goal is to generate wealth and not commit crimes or abuse the welfare state.

‘I’m one of those millions of cases that make the country move forward,’ he said proudly.

Cesar – who became a ‘poster boy’ for illegal immigrants seeking the American dream – admits that while he and others had ‘broken the law’ to cross the border – ‘we can’t stop the law of spirituality, karma, nature, and God,’ he said.

He added that the majority of the immigrants he knew had an attitude and outlook, famously expressed by John F Kennedy: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.’

And the renowned dog expert, best known for his long-running hit show Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan, says his career success comes from a drive and desire that many foreigners have to make it big in the US.

President Trump has publicly campaigned to build a wall, securing the Mexico border, and insists illegal immigration is a ‘terrible thing’ for the country – but Cesar firmly disagrees.

‘There’s two ways to look at it: you have the human law, that gets broken, I broke it; but then you have universal law, you have spiritual law. You can’t block that one,’ he explains.

‘Every country needs people with passion, who are ready to fight in a good way. You need people who have good faith, you need people that move mountains.

‘You have to learn to be fearless. You have to learn to have the most amazing creativity in the world even when nothing exists.’

Growing up Cesar (far right with members of his family in Mexico) worked with animals on his family farm in rural Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico, where he dreamed of working in Hollywood. But rather than being on screen, he hoped to be the handler who helped find the next Lassie or Rin Tin Tin
Millan’s dad Felipe (pictured) handed him $100 of his savings, after Millan revealed he planned to skip the border for a new life in California

 

He cited how important the influx of Mexicans are to the prosperity of the US economy, likening it to working with a pack of dogs.

‘No matter how illegal they are and how desperate they are, you need that energy, because we’re the back of the pack – the back of the pack is what pushes the whole entire pack.’

Growing up Cesar worked with animals on his family farm in rural Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico, where he dreamed of working in Hollywood.

But rather than being on screen, he hoped to be the handler who helped find the next Lassie or Rin Tin Tin.

Then aged 21, he felt ready to achieve his dream, with no money and just a head full of ‘super powers’ and ‘dreams about having a TV show in the USA.’

His dad Felipe handed him $100 of his savings, after Millan revealed he planned to skip the border for a new life in California.

Within minutes his dream escape in Tijuana looked doomed, however, when border patrol agents caught up with him trying to jump a fence.

After being dropped back at the bus station, determined Cesar underwent the toughest challenge of his life to stay alive and achieve his mission.

‘You don’t know anybody to go to, you don’t have a home to go, you don’t have a point of reference or people you can ask for direction,’ he said.

‘It’s pure desire, pure fate, your adrenaline is at the highest level of fear, and you’re seeing everything that is happening around you: selling drugs, gunshots.

‘This is the wild, wild west, because it’s everything illegal. If you are on the border, there’s an illegal vibe, so everything that you can think of is happening – you are worried about the people here, you’re hyper alert, because you can be a victim easy.

‘They’ll kill you because of whatever, kidnap you, anything can go. Anything that someone believes that they can take you, they can take you.’

Within minutes his dream escape in Tijuana looked doomed, however, when border patrol agents caught up with him trying to jump a fence. After being dropped back at the bus station, determined Cesar (pictured in the 1980s) underwent the toughest challenge of his life to stay alive and achieve his mission
He walked for hours trying to find holes in the fence, crossing points or weak sections to scale – but his efforts were thwarted by US border patrol several times. ‘Many times, I let the immigration catch me, so I can eat, because the Mexican police won’t feed you, but the Americans do,’ he said. Pictured: The current border separating San Diego from Tijuana

He cited how important the influx of Mexicans are to the prosperity of the US economy, likening it to working with a pack of dogs.

‘No matter how illegal they are and how desperate they are, you need that energy, because we’re the back of the pack – the back of the pack is what pushes the whole entire pack.’

Growing up Cesar worked with animals on his family farm in rural Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico, where he dreamed of working in Hollywood.

But rather than being on screen, he hoped to be the handler who helped find the next Lassie or Rin Tin Tin.

Then aged 21, he felt ready to achieve his dream, with no money and just a head full of ‘super powers’ and ‘dreams about having a TV show in the USA.’

His dad Felipe handed him $100 of his savings, after Millan revealed he planned to skip the border for a new life in California.

Within minutes his dream escape in Tijuana looked doomed, however, when border patrol agents caught up with him trying to jump a fence.

After being dropped back at the bus station, determined Cesar underwent the toughest challenge of his life to stay alive and achieve his mission.

‘You don’t know anybody to go to, you don’t have a home to go, you don’t have a point of reference or people you can ask for direction,’ he said.

‘It’s pure desire, pure fate, your adrenaline is at the highest level of fear, and you’re seeing everything that is happening around you: selling drugs, gunshots.

‘This is the wild, wild west, because it’s everything illegal. If you are on the border, there’s an illegal vibe, so everything that you can think of is happening – you are worried about the people here, you’re hyper alert, because you can be a victim easy.

‘They’ll kill you because of whatever, kidnap you, anything can go. Anything that someone believes that they can take you, they can take you.’

Within minutes his dream escape in Tijuana looked doomed, however, when border patrol agents caught up with him trying to jump a fence. After being dropped back at the bus station, determined Cesar (pictured in the 1980s) underwent the toughest challenge of his life to stay alive and achieve his mission
He walked for hours trying to find holes in the fence, crossing points or weak sections to scale – but his efforts were thwarted by US border patrol several times. ‘Many times, I let the immigration catch me, so I can eat, because the Mexican police won’t feed you, but the Americans do,’ he said. Pictured: The current border separating San Diego from Tijuana

Cesar said he lived like an ‘animal’ for two weeks while he tried to cross the border.

‘My life was just against the wall. It’s almost like an animal in the zoo against the wall, back and forth, back and forth,’ he recalls.

He walked for hours trying to find holes in the fence, crossing points or weak sections to scale – but his efforts were thwarted by US border patrol several times.

‘Many times, I let the immigration catch me, so I can eat, because the Mexican police won’t feed you, but the Americans do,’ he said.

‘At least they gave you bread with bologna and a coke and that gives you some sugar, and some carbs, and some salt. That’s pretty much it. That’s not a really healthy meal, but it at least kept you alive. It kept me alive, thank God.’

Cesar admits that that he saw many terrible things that he will never discuss, but refused to give up hope.

Covered in dust and debris and severely dehydrated, he tagged along behind small families who were being helped by the coyotes in a bid to find a gap.

But suddenly a disheveled man appeared from nowhere with an offer, which Cesar felt was a ‘divine sign’.

‘This guy comes out of nowhere, very thin guy, dirty, and he’s smoking a joint and he said, “Do you want to cross the border? I’ll charge you $100.” That for me was a sign, because nobody knows how much money you have.

‘You’re not advertising money; you want to look as beat up as you can, as poor as you can, but owning your space, because this is the streets, this is the jungle, and you have to have some street smarts. So the guy said, “I’ll charge $100”. I said, “Okay”. Something inside of me says, “Say yes”. That’s fate. That’s pure fate.’

Cesar, along with a few others, followed the ‘coyote’ – the term often used for human trafficker – to a small hole behind a lady sitting selling coffee and gum.

At that time Tijuana was flooding after torrential rain showers, so their guide lead them through ‘a canal created by the water’.

After making it on to US soil, Millan slept under freeways for two months picking up cash jobs in San Diego and in other border towns. He lived off the ‘gold’ of $1 food offers at 7-Eleven stores, before saving enough to head to LA
He continued cash work, but then was drawn back to his first love – animals. ‘When I was in Inglewood, I hear all these dogs barking in a frustrated way, and most of the time in the hood, you get the Rottweilers, the German Shepherds, and the Pit Bulls. So I begin to ask people, “Can you let me walk your dog? Your dog is frustrated”. ‘I wasn’t working. I wasn’t trying to become a dog walker. The only thing I was trying, was to get rid of my boredom’

Shocked Millan saw children and pregnant women swept away by the force of water, but he powered his way forward and crawled through muddy landscapes.

‘It was the biggest rain in Tijuana at that time, biggest in history for them, because there were rivers everywhere. So I’m in boots, I’m from Sinaloa, Mexico, we wear boots, and this is my only pair of clothes that I’ve had for two weeks already. I haven’t taken a shower yet, and now I’m sucking away, full of mud, crawling, waiting in the water.

‘At one point, the coyote guy says we’re going to stay here, because the INS (Back then known as Immigration and Naturalization Service) is over there, and he could see by the light that they have on their radio.

‘And then they began to say names in Spanish, the immigration guys: “Pedro,” just to see if people will come out, because there are people everywhere.

‘And so finally, we went through everything you hear – tunnels, running against the freeway, all the signs are real.

‘And then at one point we went through another tunnel and he says wait I am going to get you a taxi.

‘I said I didn’t have any money, so he ended up paying $20 from the $100 that I paid him or the taxi to take me out. That for me became the first human who was an angel that you can see. Coyotes are not there for humanitarian reasons. That was pure fate.’

After making it on to US soil, Millan slept under freeways for two months picking up cash jobs in San Diego and in other border towns.

He lived off the ‘gold’ of $1 food offers at 7-Eleven stores, before saving enough to head to LA.

‘We take the lower positions. I washed cars, I washed dishes, I was a dishwasher guy. I did all of the bottom of the pack pay, but guess what? I was so happy about it, I was so passionate about it, I was singing,’ he recalls.

As more and more people let Cesar walk their dogs he started to charge $10 a dog. Before long he was walking 40 dogs a day at $10 each, raking in $400 a day
Cesar was a natural with dogs and before long his reputation grew as the ‘Mexican guy who can tame crazy dogs and walk a pack’
He landed a job being a kennel boy, before local media began reporting his exploits helping animals and owners bond. Within a few months, TV production companies began to offer the ambitious animal expert work

‘You need that energy. So there’s a spiritual energy that you need to move cities, to move families.’

He continued cash work, but then was drawn back to his first love – animals.

‘When I was in Inglewood, I hear all these dogs barking in a frustrated way, and most of the time in the hood, you get the Rottweilers, the German Shepherds, and the Pit Bulls. So I begin to ask people, “Can you let me walk your dog? Your dog is frustrated”.

‘I wasn’t working. I wasn’t trying to become a dog walker. The only thing I was trying, was to get rid of my boredom.

‘So I began to go door by door and say, “Can I walk your dog?” Many people said, “No”. It’s for free. I’m Mexican; they thought I was going to steal it, fight it, or something, because that’s what it is in that neighborhood.’

As more and more people let Cesar walk their dogs he started to charge $10 a dog.

Before long he was walking 40 dogs a day at $10 each, raking in $400 a day.

Cesar was a natural with dogs and before long his reputation grew as the ‘Mexican guy who can tame crazy dogs and walk a pack’.

He landed a job being a kennel boy, before local media began reporting his exploits helping animals and owners bond.

Within a few months, TV production companies began to offer the ambitious animal expert work.

Cesar created the Pacific Point Canine Academy, where Hollywood actress Jada Pinkett Smith took her pets.

He cites Menace II Society star Smith, 47, as one of the key reasons for his modern day success.

‘She loved dogs, but she didn’t understand dogs, so with my broken English, I started teaching her about that and I said, “You know what? I would like to have my own TV show and my own radio show”.

‘I didn’t have papers by the way. I didn’t speak English, but I never stopped myself from saying what I want.

Smith wanted to help Cesar achieve his dream so hired a teacher for him to improve his ‘pigeon English’. Soon Cesar landed a pilot for Dog Whisperer, which premiered in 2004 on the National Geographic Channel

‘Even though everything in front of me doesn’t make sense intellectually, it made sense to me spiritually and emotionally, and that’s all that matters to me.’

Smith wanted to help Cesar achieve his dream so hired a teacher for him to improve his ‘pigeon English’.

Soon Cesar landed a pilot for Dog Whisperer, which premiered in 2004 on the National Geographic Channel.

The show ran for eight years making him a star worldwide as it aired in over 100 countries.

Other TV projects included Leader of the Pack, Cesar 911, and Cesar Millan’s Dog Nation.

He has also taken his skills on the road with dog training seminars in an international live show.

Cesar insists that immigrants are the opposite of how many right-wing factions and politicians have portrayed them.

‘We come with the whole survival spirit, fate, passion to feed our families,’ he said.

‘We’re not coming here to take; we’re coming here to give, and we take the little pay.

‘We give more than what we take, and so you need that energy. We are actually coming with a humanitarian way of being.

‘It’s like we’re here to give, just give us a little bit of help. We just have to feed our family, that’s all. We left home not because we wanted to. It’s because there are no opportunities, so we are here to push your economy faster than you could ever think. We’re the fuel.’

Cesar added that many immigrants see America as their ‘mecca’.

‘America is still a platform to the world. If you want to do something big and influence right away, this is it,’ he said.

After falling in love with his new home the TV dog expert and best selling author finally became an American citizen in 2001 and said he felt a sense of ‘relief’ and ‘peace’.

‘I think the only way people can relate to the feeling that you feel when you’re not a citizen – being an immigrant – is that at any moment, they can return you back to your country. They can ask you to leave.

‘Once you have children, once you have friends, once you have a person that you dearly care for, if they remove them from each other, which is what you’re seeing on TV, that’s something that you live in your head.

‘You can pay taxes, be an amazing human being, but you’re still not an American citizen, so that doesn’t guarantee nothing.

‘So the gratitude that I felt to God and to the opportunity to become an American citizen and to be free to love and be passionate about this as my home.’

Cesar added that through his experiences he is in a place where he tries not to focus on himself but on those around him.

‘I’m always thinking pack, I’m always thinking family, I’m always thinking world,’ he said.

‘And so that’s why right now my slogan is: better humans, better planet.’

And as for a political run – he cited many world leaders as being ‘unstable’ without ‘integrity’ and ‘honesty’, which is the opposite of the animal kingdom.

‘There is so much negative energy in the world. We are the only species who follow unstable leaders. I don’t want to be in a place where it’s not about confidence, love, and joy, where it’s not about peace, safety and love. Animals understand that that is the only way to live.

‘Animals know that you should only follow stable leaders.

‘So politics to me is just the man law – who is willing to do whatever it takes to break other laws. Am I interested in that? No, I am happy.’

SOURCE: Daily Mail, Ryan Parry and James Desborough